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CNN Newsroom

Aired December 4, 2001 - 04:30   ET


SUSAN FREIDMAN, CO-HOST: Welcome to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Susan Freidman.

MICHAEL MCMANUS, CO-HOST: And I'm Michael McManus.

The U.S. is bombing targets in and around Kandahar, the last Taliban stronghold. And U.S. bombers continue their raids to flush out any Taliban fighters in a mountainous region believed to be a hideout for al Qaeda leaders. I'll have more on the war in Afghanistan coming up.

FREIDMAN: Thanks, Mike.

Meantime, hostilities heat up in the Middle East as Israel declares war on terror. In apparent retaliation for the deadly terrorist bombings this weekend in Jerusalem and Haifa, Israel has fired missiles on Gaza and the West Bank.

MCMANUS: Yes, Monday bombs hit near the headquarters of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and the escalating violence in Israel also prompted an emergency summit between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdallah.

James Martone will have more on that after a quick update on the attacks from CNN's Jerrold Kessel.


JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A day when the Middle East conflict took a distinct turn, a day when talk of war became the common currency.

ARIEL SHARON, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): This will not be an easy war. This war will not be a short war, but we shall win.

SAEB ERAKAT, CHIEF PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: He's saying war, war, war now, peace later. I think he is making the mistake of his life.

KESSEL: On the spot where two Palestinian suicide bombers killed 10 young Israelis, tears and prayers and fear of more bombers in their cities.

Filing in to pay their tribute, ambassadors posted to Israel. Israelis now feeling that after the series of devastating suicide bombings, the world would understand a strike at the Palestinian Authority.

SHARON (through translator): But recently, a significant change has occurred, there is more understanding for our position and the real Arafat is showing himself.

KESSEL: And just before the Prime Minister spoke, the Israeli military had spoken. Yasser Arafat's helicopters, a symbol of his authority and of his strategic mobility, targeted, along with one of his headquarters on the West Bank. Israel said it was acting because Arafat was not.

SHARON (through translator): We know who is responsible. Arafat is responsible for everything that is happening here.

KESSEL: Yasser Arafat was not in the attacked buildings. He was meeting elsewhere with the European peace mediator, but he described the Israeli strike as a humiliation for Palestinians.

Pointing to scenes like this, Arafat insists his police have taken action, arresting more than a hundred members of Hamas and Islamic jihad. This time, his security chief says they will remain in jail.

COL. JIBRIL RIJOUB, PALESTINIAN PREVENTIVE SECURITY CHIEF: No more (UNINTELLIGIBLE). No more jokes. The situation is difficult. We are acting for the sake of our people's interests.

KESSEL: Mr. Sharon is seeking to draw a parallel between Israel's battles against Palestinian militants and the U.S. global war on terror. An echo of that on the Israeli street where one placard depicted Arafat and Osama bin Laden as the same.

When Israel's Defense Minister went to visit those wounded in the suicide attacks, a confrontation with a man whose brother was among the wounded.

"Arafat has become irrelevant," he says. "Can't you see, he can't stop the terror, that's why you should get rid of him."

Binyamin Ben-Eliezer's response, "The moment I think getting rid of him will stop the terror, it'll be another matter."

KESSEL (on camera): Whether or not Israel is edging in that direction, increasingly, Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon see themselves in a battle for survival and that, in part, explains this new talk of war.

Jerrold Kessel, CNN, Jerusalem.



JAMES MARTONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Death and destruction here, worry and calls for peace here. King Abdallah of Jordan and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met in Cairo for a mini- 90-minute summit. They condemned the latest violence both by Palestinians against Israel and by Israel against the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza.

(on camera): The Israeli raids on Gaza were taking place as the two leaders met. After the talks, a senior Egyptian official said that both leaders would be trying to establish contact with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to make sure he was safe.

(voice-over): Outside the palace venue of the talks, some Egyptians protested. While Western leaders called on Mr. Arafat to arrest terrorists, these men called on him to strike back.

"There are people stronger than Arafat and they will take revenge," says this man. "And Arab's blood is not cheap."

Egyptian newspapers Monday highlighted the violence in the region. One editorial read, Arabs lost 10 years in negotiations with Israel, they can't waste another 10.

But King Abdallah and President Mubarak say they are intensifying their efforts to get Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table. Both countries, the only two Arab nations to have signed peace with Israel, say negotiations leading to a Palestinian state are the only way to stop the violence, the bombs, the death and the destruction.

James Martone, CNN, Cairo.


MCMANUS: An American who said he fought with the Taliban is being held by U.S. special forces somewhere in Afghanistan. John Walker was wounded in the recent prison uprising in Mazar-e-Sharif. A CNN correspondent discovered Walker in a hospital in Shabergan (ph) where others who had survived the uprising had been taken. Family and friends of 20-year-old American John Walker say they are shocked to learn Walker was fighting in Afghanistan.


BILL JONES, FAMILY FRIEND: He didn't seem fanatical. I mean he was -- he was on a spiritual quest. It -- you know it isn't like he was a wild-eyed thing, he was a student. He was a scholar. And -- so that's -- the whole thing is not computing to the parents. They cannot understand what's happened. And all they can think of is something like Patty Hearst where a young person who's absolutely isolated...


MCMANUS: Ongoing U.S. air strikes, meanwhile, are isolating the Taliban's last stronghold, Kandahar. Two bridges leading into the city have been destroyed leaving Kandahar with only one access and exit route. We turn to CNN military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre for more on the fighting there.


JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Now largely settled into their dusty base 55 miles from Kandahar, U.S. Marines are preparing to conduct their first combat operations which Pentagon officials say will likely put them in direct conflict with Taliban fighters. While their mission is undisclosed, Pentagon sources say it does not include a direct assault on Kandahar. Instead, U.S. warplanes continue to pound Taliban targets from the air while relying on opposition groups to take the city where Taliban leader Mohammed Omar is believed to be holed up in a defiant last stand.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN STUFFLEBEEM, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: Southern opposition groups both north and south of the city are consolidating power. These opposition leaders are in contact with some of the Taliban factions and are still negotiating the release of the city to the southern opposition groups.

MCINTYRE: While Kandahar is the last Taliban stronghold, there are still pockets of resistance elsewhere, most notably in Balkh where the Pentagon believes roughly 2,500 Taliban and al Qaeda fighters have regrouped after escaping the battle of Konduz. But the area of highest U.S. interest remains Tora Bora, south of Jalalabad, where top military commanders believe Osama bin Laden is hiding in a cave and bombing has been relentless.

STUFFLEBEEM: We're using every element of power that we have. The special operations forces and their close coordination with the opposition groups, our air strikes, they're all being applied to bring this pressure up to, one, get the leadership and two, set conditions where others may deliver the leadership to us or get them themselves.

MCINTYRE (on camera): Pentagon sources say while the U.S. has special forces in the area, they're not looking in caves for bin Laden, at least not yet.

Jamie McIntyre, CNN, the Pentagon.


MCMANUS: Eight journalists have been killed in Afghanistan in less than a month, four by unknown assailants on the road between Kabul and Jalalabad.

As CNN's Ben Wedeman reports, getting from point A to point Z in Afghanistan can be a dangerous proposition.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if we go down this road...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and we have a problem, people try to rob us, what are they going to do?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They will kill them.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Afghanistan, travel is a deadly-serious business. This safety expert is looking for a group of gunmen to escort journalists on a road trip from Kabul to Jalalabad, attending to details most travelers would never have to contemplate.

You don't have to go too far out of the capital to discover the perils of the road. At a cold, windswept checkpoint south of Kabul on the road to Kandahar, Northern Alliance troops look for arms and Taliban stragglers headed south.

It's impossible for you to go to Kandahar, says this soldier, it's not safe. Further down the road, a United Nations convoy, loaded with wheat for the drought-stricken province of Bamian is going nowhere.

Truck driver, Ahmed Ziya (ph), says other trucks have been looted by villagers. They won't move until they know the road to Bamian to the west is secure. The turf of the Northern Alliance ends here, at the village of Durani, 40 kilometers, or 25 miles, south of Kabul.

(on camera): This is as far as the authorities would allow us to go on the road from Kabul to Kandahar. After this, it's highway robbers and Taliban fighters.

If you go any further, says this local commander, you will be killed. Some Afghans aren't phased by the danger. It's nothing new. For those armed with personal contacts and tribal connections, this journey seems like any other, fraught with peril and always difficult.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Durani, Afghanistan.


MCMANUS: A breakthrough in U.N. sponsored talks for a temporary government in Afghanistan. Four Afghan factions meeting near Bonn, Germany have agreed to the U.N. plan for a six-month interim government followed by a year and a half of transitional leadership. The agreement came early today. Yesterday, about 300 Afghan tribal chiefs from eastern Afghanistan voiced support for the education of women, saying both men and women are equal under Islam.

Our Jason Bellini spent a day with three Afghan women living in Kabul. He talked with them about how their lives have changed since the Taliban left the city. Here's what they had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Donning their burkas, Maryam Qasimi and two of her sisters-in-law leave a house full of clinging children with their relatives and head to the bazaar. Usually they come here to buy clothes for the children. Today, they're shopping for themselves. As they wind their way through the bazaar stalls, the post-Taliban freedom they feel most intensely is the freedom to shop.

"If that size doesn't fit you, you can try on another," the shopkeeper tells them.

During the Taliban regime, a merchant would take a big risk if he accepted money directly from the hands of a woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they weren't with their man, we could not take the money.

BELLINI: Women needed male escorts on their shopping expeditions. They broke the rules at their peril.

Where you ever hit by the Taliban?

"Once I came here, I didn't have socks on my feet, so I was hit by the Taliban. They said why didn't you have socks on your feet, and why do you come here without your men?"

The women pick up a few more items, head home and then quickly lose the burkas.

Aside from shopping, little else of Maryam's daily routine is different now.

"In Afghanistan there is no work for women," she says. "We just sit at home taking care of the children and doing all the work around the house."

Does it make you happy what you do? Do you wish you were doing something else?

"Actually, I'm very happy with my living now. Before the Taliban, I stayed at home. I'm happy to continue like this."

Her main concern is that her children go to school, the boys and the girls.

"I'll be very happy if my children are educated," she says.

What's this room here?

Thirty people live in this one home. If the men of the house get better jobs, that could change, but change can be slow to come.

(on camera): I wanted to go up on the roof to take a picture of the beautiful Afghan sunset, but just as I was climbing the ladder I was told no, don't do that. That's not allowed in this culture. You're not supposed to go up on the roof because men in the neighborhood might see you and think that you're looking down at their women. It's another cultural taboo that hasn't gone away yet.

(voice-over): "During the Taliban regime there were some affects on people's minds. We became more traditional," Maryam's husband said.

Maryam told me, "Now I have the freedom to wear anything I want. Before, I was like a prisoner. Now I have the right to do anything."

Why do you still wear the burka then?

Her answer, "Because there are lots of other women wearing the burka so I don't want to get rid of it. Maybe even in the future I'll still wear it."

The choice is now hers. Freedom to shop, a liberating step in a society where traditions aren't overturned as easily as regimes.

Jason Bellini, CNN, Kabul, Afghanistan.



ROBIN ROUSSEAU, DURHAM, NEW HAMPSHIRE: This is Robin Rousseau from Durham, New Hampshire, and I would like to ASK CNN: What is the difference between the position of National Security Adviser and Homeland Security Adviser?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Homeland Security Adviser, that's former Pennsylvania governor, Tom Ridge, and the National Security Adviser, that's former university professor, Condoleezza Rice, are both high-level advisers to the president, appointed by the president and responsible only him.

What's the difference between them? Ms. Rice deals with threats from abroad; Mr. Ridge deals with threats from within the United States.

Now, obviously a lot of threats from within originate abroad, like the attacks on September 11. So the two advisers have to work together very closely to coordinate activities like, for instance, intelligence gathering.


MCMANUS: Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge has issued another warning of possible terrorist attacks, the third such government alert. He put Americans on high alert at home and abroad, but Ridge said the threat was not specific in nature.


TOM RIDGE, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY DIRECTOR: The threats we are picking up are very generic. They warn of more attacks, but are not specific about where or what type. We do know that the next several weeks, which bring the final weeks of Ramadan and important religious observations in other faiths, have been times when terrorists have planned attacks in the past.


MCMANUS: Customs officials are just one group of the uniformed security agencies of the U.S. that take the threat very seriously. Each year, close to 500 million people use a port of entry like an airport or a border crossing to gain access to America. That's almost double the actual population of the entire United States.

What are Customs agents doing to help better protect the country? Here's Jeanne Meserve and the U.S. Customs Commissioner with some answers.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The United States is a big country with a big border, 6,000 miles of it on land, 100,000 miles of it seacoast. There are 301 ports of entry, a number that includes seaports, airports, land crossings or any mix of those. Four hundred and ninety million people use those ports of entry to come into the U.S. each year and a huge amount of cargo comes in, too.

Here are some numbers that tell that part of the story -- 5,813,244 ship cargo containers came into the U.S. in fiscal year 2000 and more than 11 million commercial trucks drove across the border. Even the daily load of trucks is just astounding. Each and every day, more than 19,000 trucks come across the northern border from Canada, about 11,000 come across the southern border from Mexico.

Let's take a snapshot of Southern California. It includes, of course, land crossings from Mexico, but there is also an airport that handles close to 116,000 tons of cargo and a seaport that brings in another 2.5 million tons.

What is in that cargo? Do we know for sure whether or not a biological, chemical or nuclear weapon is being smuggled in?

Here with me is Robert Bonner, the U.S. Customs Commissioner.

Do we know? Can we possibly know when you're looking at a volume of that sort?

ROBERT BONNER, U.S. CUSTOMS COMMISSIONER: Well one thing we can do is we can reduce the risk or the likelihood that a weapon of mass destruction can be introduced into the United States through cargo containers, whether that's trucks coming across our northern border or into our seaports or airports and what have you. And the way we do that and the way we're doing that better since September the 11th is one, getting, as we are, better intelligence. We're evaluating and targeting information that Customs has in terms of trade and trade patterns in terms of what we actually inspect.

We're also employing some pretty sophisticated technology, X-ray, gamma ray-type technology against cargo that we had developed for the -- essentially for drug smuggling and drug trafficking that we've been using at the southwest border but also has applications for detecting things like nuclear weapons and biological weapons.

MESERVE: But is that technology very widely deployed right now?

BONNER: Well it needs to be more widely deployed, but it is -- we have a fair...

MESERVE: How many -- how many ports of entry have it?

BONNER: Well, for example, just -- let's just take one of the pieces of technology we have is essentially a pager size Geiger counter to detect potentially nuclear weapons or nuclear material. We have at least 4,000 of those that are deployed to Customs officers at border points around the country. We have a pretty significant number of X-ray and gamma ray machines that can be used to examine cargo, let's say container trucks or at seaports, containers coming in. So we don't actually have to strip out all of them, but we can take a look inside through our technology and determine if there's something that doesn't look right that could be some sort of a weapon of mass destruction and then do the physical search.

MESERVE: Do you screen every single cargo container or only a select few?

BONNER: No, it's based upon a targeting mechanism. It would be literally impossible to inspect or search every container that's coming into the United States. So you have to -- you have to be smart about it. You have to decide what are the -- what are the real low risk types of things because it's General Motors shipping bumpers from Canada and what's a higher risk thing, a shipment that may be coming -- originated in the Middle East or something of that sort. So you're doing some sorting and you're doing some risk assessment in terms of what you're actually inspecting or examining.

MESERVE: But terrorists are often successful because they do what isn't expected?

BONNER: We have to be thinking ahead in terms of different ways that foreign terrorist organizations may try to introduce into the United States weapons of mass destruction and we're doing that. I mean Customs is not only at the airports and the seaports and the land borders searching more cargo containers, let's say, coming across the northern border than we've ever searched before, many by a substantial multiple, but we're also, for example, the international mail that comes into the United States, Customs inspectors sort through and search that. The air courier services, UPS, FedEx, we have inspectors in Memphis that search the international air courier, the envelopes and other packages that are coming in from abroad.

So the way you have to do this is you have to -- you have to use technology, you have to use it wisely and you have to have as good information that is good as possible to hope you target or select what you're going to look at, what you're going to examine.

MESERVE: Robert Bonner, U.S. Customs Commissioner, thanks a lot.


FREIDMAN: When the U.S. Department of Transportation asked for security ideas recently, it expected about 50 ideas. It received 600. Driven sometimes by patriotism but often by a desire for profit, companies are flooding the government with ways to make the homeland more secure.

We head to Capitol Hill where a demonstration of new technology was held. Again, here's Jeanne Meserve.


DON KUBLEY, DIOGENES CO.: Testing one, two, three, four, boom. And you see a lot of stress because this is my first time on CNN.


MESERVE (voice-over): A laptop computer converted into a device that can tell if you're lying by analyzing vocal stress. With a lot of money now being spent on security, the manufacturer is pitching it all over Washington.

KUBLEY: The Homeland Security Office and the State Department and the FAA.

MESERVE: Some firms, like these at a Capitol Hill demonstration, have proven products already in limited use, but there are others who are exploiting fear to make money.

ROBERT GONZALEZ, LUFTHANSA SYSTEMS: As a result of the September 11 attacks, there is a tremendous amount of companies who are, we call them ambulance chasers, trying to take advantage of a bad situation who really don't have a new or better or existing product to sell.

MESERVE (on camera): No existing product, it can happen. A New Jersey company claimed to have developed and patented a chemical and biological alarm and neutralization defense system. It turns out they didn't have a system, didn't have a patent, didn't have a prototype and the Securities and Exchange Commission ordered them to stop committing fraud.

(voice-over): Experts in security believe the hucksters will be weeded out.

JACK LICHTENSTEIN, AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR INDUSTRIAL SECURITY: I have great faith in the marketplace. The ability of companies to recognize ideas that simply won't work or are based on a desire to make a profit off a bad situation.

MESERVE: There are a lot of ideas out there. When the Department of Transportation solicited security ideas from industry and academia, it was swamped with 600 responses. It expected 50. It all benefits homeland security.

RIDGE: It will tap the creative genius and resources of both the public and the private sector.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we want to do is zoom in once.

MESERVE: Good old-fashioned American capitalism and ingenuity, two attributes that some believe will go a long way towards meeting security needs.


FREIDMAN: There has been a lot of guessing as to what it actually was. An inventor unveiled the device Monday. It turns out to be a gyroscope stabilized battery-powered scooter that he hopes will revolutionize short distance travel. The inventor is hoping that the scooter will end up replacing cars.

Ann Kellan has more.


DEAN KAMEN, SEGWAY INVENTOR: They're like magic sneakers.

ANN KELLAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A revolution rivaling the PC or just another too far ahead of the curve invention? After $100 million, 10 years of research and a lot of media hype, this is Segway. You first heard of it by the code name "Ginger." Whatever the name, it's a 60 to 80 pound two-wheeled battery-operated personal transport device.

KAMEN: When I want to go forward, I think forward. When I want to go back, I think back. After the brain or its computer calculates what it should do, your brain sends signals to your muscles, our computer sends signals to motors that are built into the base of the machine.

KELLAN: The Segway has five gyroscopes and sensors. Learning to ride it is easy, but going over bumps and up hills take a little more training than I had time for. It goes 15 miles on a battery charge, can run over toes without injury.

When word leaked out about Segway in January, it was touted as a breakthrough rivaling the PC, the Internet. It's inventor Dean Kamen, who as a teenager invented the drug infusion pump and later the portable dialysis machine and a wheelchair that climbs stairs, says Segway's 12-mile an hour clip is a giant step forward for pedestrians, though he recommends a helmet for those high speeds.

(on camera): Segway won't be available to consumers for about one to two years and will probably cost more than $3,000. So is this a high-priced, high-tech tool or a serious transport device?

PROFESSOR MITCHELL MOSS, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: The quality of the "Ginger" is it works best in suburban settings, in low density areas where the sidewalks aren't crowded. In a place like New York, the sidewalks are jammed and people walk faster than anywhere else in the world.

KELLAN (voice-over): Kamen disagrees and hopes one day it will help reduce city congestion.

KAMEN: This is a very pedestrian friendly device. You are standing up like other pedestrians. You maneuver like other pedestrians. You can go into and out of doorways like other pedestrians. You belong on the sidewalk.

KELLAN: For now, Kamen will start rolling out high-end $8,000 Segway versions for corporate customers. Ford Motor will use it on factory floors, city of Atlanta cops will patrol tourist areas with them and the U.S. Postal Service will deliver some of your mail on wheels.

Ann Kellan, CNN, New York.


FREIDMAN: That's it for today. We'll see you here tomorrow.

MCMANUS: Goodbye.




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